“Wolfe Trap” by Matt Cost

I have reviewed Mr. Cost’s work earlier this year, and find myself repeating those comments and applying them to this novel. However, for those of you who missed “Mainely Money,” here goes. Generally, this author writes a great action novel but tends to fall in love with his research, and expects us to do the same.

“Wolfe Trap” ticks all the boxes of a Smalltown America Private Detective novel with the added bonus of a primer of everything going on in the U. S. drug trade, legal and illegal.

The narrative form, involving the author’s frequent intrusion with historical and social bits of information, is great for creating atmosphere, but this means a lot of explaining, which puts a fine screen between the reader and the characters, reducing our emotional attachment to the story. The technique of giving this information through long periods of inactive conversation has its limits, especially when the characters are telling each other facts they both probably know.

As in his other novel of the same style, the main strength of the writing is the characters. All of them are interesting, and every one (good, bad and neutral) evokes reader emotion. There is a certain amount of stereotyping, as is expected in this genre, but they are all characters we love (and love to hate).

Conflict includes just about every ill caused by America’s lack of medical coverage, Big Pharma, Mexican cartels, filthy rich billionaires, small-town corruption and Chinese drug lords. The plotline is complicated enough to keep us guessing, and realistic enough to draw us in and keep us involved until the final compulsory gun battle. A notable departure from the usual style; there are no fainting, fallible females in the battle scenes. In this story, the girls get down and dirty with the best of them.

Recommended for readers who like their Detective Action stories with great characters, a small amount of intense action and a dollop of education thrown in.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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